MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO-TV brought you a story in May about a Minneapolis based car business benefiting from high gas prices. The company, Civics Reborn, puts new parts in used Honda Civics.

At the time, the company said that business quadrupled with customers searching for fuel efficient and sustainable cars. But in the weeks after the story aired, WCCO received a growing number of customers with complaints, saying the business needs a tune up.

Owner Zachary Moore, 21, started the company three years ago, before gas prices tipped around $4 a gallon.

Moore sells just one generation of Honda Civics — from 1992 to 1995 — then strips them down, and rebuilds with mostly new parts. They’re cars known for their fuel efficiency.

However, nearly one dozen customers told WCCO they have not received their vehicles in the time that Moore promised or their cars aren’t working properly.

One of those customers is Cassandra Doran, of Brooklyn Center.

“If looks too good to be true. It’s too good to be true,” said Doran. “We did our research and there was nothing bad out there so don’t take that as a sign it’s a good company. Just because there is not something on BBB and they have an A-plus rating, does not mean, they have an A-plus rating.”

Doran and her boyfriend Brian Lasley needed an affordable car for their family and found Civics Reborn.

“The car to take me to work, to take our kids to school, to take our kids to dance practice our daily activities, so it needed to be reliable,” said Doran.

The couple says they paid $4,600 up front, since owner Zachary Moore told them his company program requires initial payment to buy the new parts.

“He said, you sign the title over, it’s mailed within a few weeks and that is it — 15 days,” said Lasley.

But the couple says the two weeks turned into two months, and repeated calls to Moore went unanswered.

“When I call a business that has my car and money, I expect them to tell me when it was going to be ready,” said Doran.

More customers with similar stories sent in complaints to the WCCO website, and WCCO confronted Moore about the growing number of unhappy customers.

“If I was on their end, I would be upset,” said Moore, who says he has moved to a new facility on 3134 California Street in Northeast Minneapolis, in order to improve his business efficiency. “We are in over our head and we are trying to keep up with it. The best thing we can do is tell our customers they won’t get their order for a while. Basically, we started off with a small amount of orders per month and when our popularity started growing, we weren’t prepared for how many were coming in. We are doing our best to keep up with everything.”

Moore said he has over-promised and under delivered as his business as grown, adding he has regrets.

“If I would have known, I would have told customers you are going to wait 2-3 months for your vehicle,” said Moore, who says his customers’ money is still going directly to the car they purchased. “Why would I be trying this hard at a scam? It would be a lot of work for nothing.”

Doran said while she was waiting for her Civic, Moore gave her two loaner cars that broke down, and that’s when she threatened legal action.

“He needed to deliver by June 26 or we needed a full refund,” said Doran, who said that deadline came and went without her car.

“At that point he called and said he didn’t need my business and he would gladly give us a refund,” said Moore, who called it a sigh of relief.

Doran said she did receive her money back, and used it to buy another used car, but she’s now communicated with other unhappy customers who haven’t had the same outcome.

Many customers tell WCCO they are still waiting for their cars, in some cases up to three months.

Moore said he is trying to improve his business model.

“I doing my best, and I am with them 100 percent — they are going to like their car,” he said.

Comments (26)
  1. Mike Hawk says:

    Seems like this guy is honest but most people can’t allow for thier cash to be in limbo for that long. What he needs is a loan so he doesn’t have to use the buyers money to get these cars sellable. I wish I had the money, I’d help him out.

  2. Joel says:

    Ditto… He is trying… He just wasn’t prepared for booming business…

    1. David J. Conklin says:

      No company is ready when it booms–you can literally grow your way into bankruptcy.

  3. Sam I am says:

    Agree with the other 2 comments. Seems like the auto industry isn’t providing fuel efficient cars, just hybrids or electric. This kid is trying to do the right thing and it morphed into a monster.

    I hope things work out for him. He seems level headed and honest. If I had the money I would invest.

  4. Sgt says:

    What gets me is there are car that get 50mpg.( not Hybrids) or better that are sold in Europe & Asia that arent sold here in the U.S. My Question is Why? Politics????
    One of the cars is a Subaru ( Outback ?) that gets 55 MPG & its a 5 speed, the other is a VW Polo that gets over 70 MPG. I think the Polo is a diesel.

    1. k car says:

      They probably do not meet DOT safety standards?

      1. Guy says:

        There are cars that are close. My 2000 Saturn SL w/manual tranny gets 45 mgp.

        You want high gas milage; get rid of all the hybrid junk & just go to manual transmssions – CHEAP and reliable.

  5. Michael Clark says:

    I can certainly appreciate that he IS trying and I hope that things work out for the best in this situation. At Least he is responding to questions and comments and not trying to hide out or anything, so it would seem.

  6. Jim says:

    There are always people who, no matter what you try to do for them, are never happy. This kid is in a tough spot and seems to know exactly where his business shortcomings are. He’s trying to be his own businessman and keep up with his rapidly growing business while trying to satisfy his customer base all at the same time. It seems the only thing he may be guilty of is lack of a customer support structure in the way of communicating progress to his clients. Which is something about 90% of all retail business’ lack these days. I applaud him and give a big thumbs down to Ms. Doran and Mr. Lasley. Keep pluggin’ Zach!

    1. Think Again says:

      Shut up Jim. You are a moron with the smallest brain i’ve ever encountered.

      “There are always people who, no matter what you try to do for them, are never happy”……so thats what you think this is a case of there Jim? These people are insatiable, greedy customers who are never happy?

      Or maybe that Zach over promised and under delivered and THAT is the reason they are upset? He even admitted it himself…that he would be upset too!?!?!?! Did you read that part buddy?

      These people have every right to be upset. This is BUSINESS…do you understand that concept? If you cant deliver, you either need to change your model (which is what it sounds like Zach is doing) or go bankrupt. But just because Zach is trying hard and is ripping them off….doesnt mean they dont have the right to be upset and complain about him having there car AND money for months…when he originally said it would be weeks.

      How dumb are you Jim?

      1. David J. Conklin says:

        >You are a moron with the smallest brain i’ve ever encountered.

        Till we met you.

        >Zach is trying hard and is ripping them off

        I’ve yet to meet a con who is trying hard. So which is it?

        1. Think Again says:

          You dont make sense. It was a typo…supposed to read isn’t rather than is. If you read the rest of the post you should have been able to figure that out by the context of the post. That was too hard for you to figure out? Do the city bus routes confuse you too?

          David, you may just have overtaken Jim for the smallest brain i’ve encountered.

    2. Mike says:

      Thumbs down to the customer who was promised a service and than after repeated recalls got no response until they were exposed under a bright light?
      Seems to me his buddies and other shysters have got their cheer leading priorities mixed up, Respond to your calls if your legitimate or be exposed for the rat you appear to be. Buyer beware!

  7. seth says:

    this kid is great. keep plugin along. northeast is a great community and I hope you do well there. the key is to get good help around you. use wisdom in your hiring process and you will do fine.

  8. the crux of the buscuit says:

    Sounds like he could use an investor or two to make this thing go. I bet 50K would do it. A consortium (group) of investors would work. Why don’t several of you that have 5k you can take a chance with get together, and invest? Seems like this guy has a great idea that could make a decent return. I even know some mechanics that love the frme off, ground up restore stuff…..

    It’s a terrible idea, forget I ever mentioned it.

  9. Can't believe this exists says:

    I very much respect the owner of the business but laughed at the story when it first aired. I wonder what idiot would pay for an old death trap like that gen of car much less nearly 5,000. I can find a car in a weekend newer, safer and cheaper with similar mpg in nice shape. The mere fact that there people out there that would buy one of these cars shows me why people are so unsuccessful in this world. If this is a niche and there are actualy fools out there to buy these cars, then I say exploit it.

  10. Meh says:

    Don’t let this discourage you Zach! Your business is experiencing growing pains, and as long as you keep a grip on it, you will make it through this.

  11. Messugah says:

    The mechanic is honest. The rest, they buy there time and make up stories to continue to buy more time and eventually it sucks. Let people know the truth, give them a choice, and it would not be that bad of an idea. I figured out midway through the process it was a dumb thing to buy but kudos to him for being a good sales man. He has no idea what he is doing, but he is not a scammer, just an arrogant kid. Check back in 2 years and see how he is doing. Plus please have your growing pains to yourself, not with your customers money or time. And no 90% of retail does not struglle with customer service. Where did you get that fact? Michelle Bachmanns story time museum supper happy hour? After the whole process, my final thought is this: CIVCS REBORN NEEDS TO BE REBORN.

  12. worker says:

    it doesn’t help when half of his workers are stealing from him, get what they want and just leave without telling him. its hard to run a business when half of his workers all just quit on him one day because they didn’t want to work anymore…

  13. Ami says:

    Mr. Moore should simplify his business model, and get some sound business advice and mentoring. If his Civics Reborn program was not about offering a customized car the program could be very successful. If Zak offered stock finished cars for sale instead of customized pre-paid orders, people could see what they are buying. The guy has talent, but is inexperienced.

    We bought a car from Zak. It is a very good car, 40 mpg. The process started March 13, took delivery July 4th.

    1. Ami says:

      I have an update. Today we received our title, complete and accurate. The “MN State Shutdown” slowed things down. The 95 Civic is driving great.

  14. Kellye says:

    OK Grandma. I know you are proud of your grandson, but don’t you think you get better service than the rest of us poor customers who blithely wrote him a check, and cannot not even get an update about WHEN to expect a car? If you had to deal with NOT knowing anything about status….and the total frustration of a constantly full phone mailbox, and lack of response to emails, I think you would be singing a different story. Is there was to be a car? When should we expect it, as it clearly isn’t going to be in a month as expected? What happened to the loaner we were promised? Once it comes, how to we get him to come fix the tweaks/tune ups he says will invariably be needed in the first few weeks — there is NO way to get ahold of him!! I think some people would be more willing to offer patience if Zach and Kaz Vehicles didn’t represent such a vaccuum of communication.

    1. Ami says:

      For clarification, the post from the Grandma seems to have been removed.

  15. Weeks Family says:

    I have to echo many of the comments here, I do sympathize with the growing pains a business must endure, but that being said we paid for a car from Mr. Moore, on June 20 2011. We were told that the car would be turned around 15 day from the date of acquisition of the car. Apparently they have had a vehicle for 2 months now, and communications with them is like pulling teeth. So we have contacted the MN State Attorney Generals office to report them for Title Fraud, Tax Fraud, and Grand Larceny. This is a situation brought about by the incompetence of grease monkeys, attempting to be business men. “Mr. Moore, I love your business idea, too bad you know about cars and not running a business” The best thing Mr. Moore could do is hire a project manager and a salesmen who is not too busy with his head under a hood to answer the phone. Civics Reborn has 3 employees as of January ’12, and Mr. Moore does not even show his face @ his place of business. Just because someone does not intend to defraud customers, does not mean he can’t be guilty of actually committing fraud. We have yet to see any evidence that Mr. Moore and Kaz Vehicles have not stolen our money, and actually have a car for us.
    Finally they sent us a picture of a car that was not the correct color, god only knows who’s car they took a picture of.

  16. carluck says:

    Same thing here. We recently got a picture of a car that was the wrong color….continued excuses as to why the car is not ready. We have waiting since September. Mr. Moore is always “out of town”. We are going to proceed with a report to the AG as well.

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